Billy Foshay / Gavel Media

Park Street Corporation Speaker Series Discusses Health, Humanity, and Ethics

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists and human rights activists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn opened the fall program of the Park Street Corporation Speaker Series with their talk “A Path Appears: Reporting on Gender Inequities and Global Health” on Sept. 15.

The Park Street Corporation Speaker Series, which is also open to the public, seeks to examine the relationship of health, humanity, and ethics across various disciplines. The series is sponsored by the Institute of Liberal Arts and the Park Street Corporation, which was founded by Father Robert F. Quinn, C.S.P. with the goal of bringing Boston business leaders together to improve education, housing, health care, and law enforcement.

Amy Boesky, Professor of English and Director of the Medical Humanities, Health, and Culture Minor, and James Keenan, S.J., Canisius Professor and Director of the Jesuit Institute, co-direct the program.

“We are interested in triangulating the relationship between health, humanity, and ethics,” said Professor Boesky. “We try to consider the ethical dimensions of health care and how it intersects with our mission in the liberal arts. After all, part of the distinct Jesuit nature of Boston College is to think about the common good and about the broader question of why there is suffering in the world and what people can do about it.”

Kristof and WuDunn’s talk examined the impact of journalism in reporting on gender inequality and global health programs. And according to them, the disadvantages that come with being born female in many places across the world present the major moral dilemma of our time.

The series will continue on Nov. 3 with “Disability Bioethics: Toward Theory and Practice” by Rosemarie Garland-Thompson, Professor of English and Co-Director of the Disability Studies Initiative at Emory University.

The third event of the semester, “Escaping Melodrama: What Should We Learn, But What Do We Learn, From the Infamous Research Studies in Tuskegee and Guatemala,” will be presented by Susan Reverby, the Marion Butler McLean Professor in the History of Ideas and Professor of Women’s Gender Studies at Wellesley College, on Nov. 17.

Professor Reverby is a historian of American health care and has written on the infamous "Tuskegee" syphilis study. She also uncovered unpublished records of a research study that used prisoners, soldiers, and mental patients to study sexually transmitted diseases in Guatemala in the 1940s.

The final speaker of the semester is Ashish Jha, the Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, the K.T. Li Professor of Health Policy at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is an internationally-known expert on healthcare delivery and the global response to pandemics.

Professor Jha’s talk, “Preventing the Next Global Pandemic: Lessons from Ebola and Zika” will take place on Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. in the Murray Function Room of the Yawkey Athletic Center.

As for their hopes for the series, Professor Boesky said, “We hope that these speakers can impact students in personal ways, and can serve as role models in how they think about shaping careers that are meaningful, making a difference in the lives of others, and working to rectify some of the biggest problems we face.”

I’m a future elementary teacher who enjoys dabbling in news coverage of politics and social issues on the side.